Me and my Armenia

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Armenia — the country of old legends and Biblical stories. To visit Armenia is to travel back in history and feel the spirit of more than 41 centuries. Experience first hand the «country sheltered by Biblical Ararat» home of Noah’s Ark; the land where human kind was reborn.

Armenia offers a little something for every person.Rich with historical churches, monasteries, monuments, and magnificent masonry, this country that was the first to adopt Christianity and proclaim it as its state religion in 301 AD is a unique treasure for those interested in great events.Armenia is a country of beauty, history and culture.

This ancient mountainous country offers a wide range of activities for the traveller. From swimming in lake Sevan, hiking on Mt Aragats, picnicking in Ashtarak valley, exploring the mountains of Karabagh to appreciating the Opera, sipping soorj (Armenian Coffee) in the many relaxing cafe’s and enjoying the Yerevan night life.

There are so many sights in this small and sunny country that even a couple of months are not enough to see it. There is the temple Garni, monasteries in Geghard and Haghartsin, one of the greatest observatories in Byurakan, Ejmiatsin, Khor Virap, Amberd, and the Lake Sevan: this is the least that Armenia can offer the world. Armenia is the oldest civilization with a young heart.

Armenia is a very diverse country often with a history which is replete with a lot of treasures. It is a land of stark contrasts and home to a resilient, industrious people with great love for the arts and sciences. Armenians are well-known for their hospitality and visitors will find a pleasant and friendly atmosphere everywhere they go.

Armenia is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe,[10] it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which Noah’s Ark is said to have come to rest after the flood. Recent archeological studies have found the world’s earliest leather shoe, skirt, and wine-producing facility in Armenia, dated to about 4000 B.C.

Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301. Over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syriac churches.Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion only with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy.

Yerevan is the capital of Armenia. It is a cultural, economical, political and scientific center of Armenia. Yerevan is located in a mountainous area on the Hrazdan River. There are many theatres, museums and monuments in Yerevan. It’s impossible to imagine now Yerevan without Matenadaran, Opera and Ballet theatre, Youth Palace, Sport and Concert Complex and National Academy of Sciences. If you wish to see the whole of Yerevan you have to go up to Victory park and the whole city will be seen spread at the foot of gorgeous Ararat.

Interesting facts about Armenia

1. Chess is a compulsory subject in schools

Interesting huh? All students have to take chess as a compulsory subject in school and there are even exams for it! The photo below shows the renowned Tigran Petrosian Chess House in Yerevan where many huge international chess tournaments have been held.

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2. Armenia was the first country to have adopted Christianity as its state religion

Today, 97% of the population today are Christians and Armenia has one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Check out our post on the 10 most beautiful Armenian churches that you must visit. The country was converted to Christianity back in 301AD by St Gregory Illuminator and since then, many churches have been built under his name. There are so many beautiful churches in Armenia and we have come up with our own list of the top 10 most beautiful churches in Armenia.

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Khor Virap Monastery

3. Armenia is one of the only mono ethnic countries in the world

97% of the people living in Armenia are Armenians and the remaining small percentage is made up of different ethnic minorities such as the Yazidis, Russians, Ukranians, Kurds, and more.

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4. The first church in the world was built in Armenia

Holy Etchimiadzin was the first state church built in the world back in the early 4th century. This place is also the headquarter of all the churches in Armenia and it’s one of the most visited pilgrimage site in the world. Unfortunately this beautiful building has been under construction for the past few years and we were unable to capture a nice shot of it.

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5. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the Genocide

The genocide refers to the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. Coincidentally, this year 24th April 2015 marks the 100th year anniversary of the genocide. The Genocide museum was closed for a year for thorough restoration and will only be opened 2 days before its 100th anniversary. The genocide happened during and after first world war where more than 1.5million Armenians were brutally killed without any mercy by her enemy. The genocide happened in 3 phases, the first was when all the men were being called out to join the army and then killed (so that the rest of the population will not have any males to protect them), then next was the killing of all women, elderly and children, and the last was the intellectuals.

6. Armenia is one of the oldest wine producing country in the world

Armenia is one of the oldest country that has produced wine in the world. It’s attributed to its blessed location of being on the fertile valleys of Mt Ararat where high quality grapes could be grown.

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Enjoying the different fruit flavoured wines at Areni Wine

7. Armenians bake their lavash underground in a tonir

A tonir basically refers to an underground earth oven as shown in the photo below. Armenians love to eat lavash which is this thin layer of flat chewy bread that’s made from flour, salt and water and baked in a tonir. Lavash can be kept for 1 year without turning bad. So usually the local women will bake the lavash in bulk and then store them to eat slowly for the next few months. Armenians cannot imagine having their meals without bread! (Even if they’re eating rice, they’ll need to have bread with it too!)

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An example of an ancient underground tunir at the Geghard Monastery

8. The entire country worships Mt Ararat which is also the national symbol of Armenia

According to our guide, Mt Ararat protected Armenia from a super strong earthquake! They also believe that the peak of Mt Ararat was where Noah’s ark was found. But sadly, Mt Ararat is not even within the territory of Armenia at the moment.

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9. The apricot is one of the symbols of Armenia

The flag on the right in the photo below belongs to Armenia and the orange colour of the flag actually symbolises the apricot! That’s how significant apricots are to Armenia! And when you walk through the markets, you’ll find vendors selling apricots of all sort from dried apricot, fresh apricot, apricot flavoured wine, apricot juice and anything else that you can think of!

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10. Yerevan is also known as the “pink city”

Yerevan is one of the most beautiful “pink city’ that we’ve ever been to, her buildings were all made of naturally coloured volcanic rocks of varying shades of pink, hence giving her the name “pink city”.

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11. There’s a ‘stork village’ here in Armenia!

We were on our way to the Noravank Church when we passed by this village with a whole row of long wooden poles lined up neatly along the road and a huge stork’s nest on the top of each pole! It was so amazing! These storks migrate to Africa every year before the winter arrives and returns when it’s spring! We happened to be there when it was almost spring and some of the storks have already arrived back home to their nest. It was such a cute sight! Also, the nests were so huge that some other smaller birds such as the sparrows have made their own little nest out of the huge stork’s nest! (From the photo on the right below, you can see a few sparrows happily making their home in the stork’s nest)

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12. There is no discrimination between tourists and locals in Armenia

This has gotta be one of our favourite points. We really like how there’s no discrimination between tourists and the locals here in Armenia! Tickets to all attractions in Armenia were priced the same for both locals and tourists, unlike in some other countries such as Iran where the tourist price is almost 10 times more expensive than the local’s price. Actually, it’s free entry to all the churches in Armenia, which is pretty amazing actually. In Central Asia and Iran, we had to pay entrance fees to enter their mosques. Only certain attractions such as the Garni Temple below requires a small fee for the entrance ticket.

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